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Advocates Urging Funding of Specialized Mesothelioma Treatment Center

A group headed by the family of former U.S. Marine John Johnson is urging the US Veterans Administration to provide enhances mesothelioma services at the West LA VA. Johnson died in 2012 of mesothelioma, and it is his family’s belief that had specialized care been available, their loved one might still be alive. The family is working in concert with the Pacific Meso Center (PMC) to raise awareness of the aggressive nature of this rare form of cancer. Mesothelioma kills roughly 3,500 Americans every year, and of that group nearly one third are veterans. Most were sickened by exposure to asbestos when they worked in military facility or Navy shipyards.

In support of their efforts and to emphasize their belief in the need, Johnson’s family has promised that they will contribute additional funds for the creation of the center, as well as to publicize the program to aid in fundraising efforts. It is their goal that no other veteran is subjected to the same substandard care that their loved one experienced within the VA system.

Despite the fact that American veterans represent one third of the mesothelioma diagnoses in the United States, the VA system has never fully funded a medical program specifically designed to treat those who suffer from asbestos-related diseases. Once it is open the Comprehensive Meso Center will be able to offer veterans access to early diagnosis and cutting edge treatments provided by specialists in mesothelioma, including Robert Cameron, the physician who invested the lung-sparing surgery that has extended the lives of many mesothelioma patients.

In presenting to the VA funding committee, Johnson’s son Michael said, “We’re asking the VA to simply educate doctors and veterans via its website and media promotions so that veterans can learn about resources at this center. How many veterans have to die to get your attention?” If approved the center will be called the Elmo Zumwalt Comprehensive Mesothelioma Treatment and Research Center, in honor of a Navy admiral who died of mesothelioma. The group is also asking the VA to contribute $5 million per year in expansion costs.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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